SOCHI, Russia — You can see it in the freshness of the 18-year-old American’s face, the gleam in her eye after snaring her first gold medal and the enthusiasm in her voice as she takes every question head on.
It’s undeniable: Mikaela Shiffrin is just getting started.
Becoming the youngest winner of an Olympic slalom isn’t enough for her. One gold medal isn’t enough for her. She doesn’t just want more, she wants them all.
‘‘I don’t want to push myself too far too fast. Definitely don’t get greedy. But at the same time, I’m a dreamer,’’ Shiffrin said Saturday, about 13 hours after winning the women’s slalom.
‘‘Right now, I’m dreaming of the next Olympics [and] winning five gold medals, which sounds really crazy,’’ she said. ‘‘I’m sorry I just admitted that to you all.’’
And with that, another first: Shiffrin has never before apologized for dreaming big. And the dreams don’t come any bigger than those Shiffrin has for her Alpine skiing career. No one has ever swept the five events — slalom, giant slalom, super-G, downhill, and super-combined — at the Olympics. She intends to be the first.
When asked if she can become a five-event skier, US Alpine director Patrick Riml said, ‘‘Totally. Totally. She has talent. She’s got the drive and the commitment. We’ve just got to do step by step.’’
‘It’s just a fact. We come to the Olympics to win.’MIKAELA SHIFFRIN, recalling her gold medal in the slalom
She came to Sochi cast as America’s next star after Lindsey Vonn went down with a knee injury. She delivered with the poise, confidence, and precociousness that have drawn people to her ever since she hit the World Cup circuit shortly before her 16th birthday.
Shiffrin is constantly writing notes to herself, little reminders that help her crystalize her plans and set the tone for a day, a week, a career. So it will come as no surprise to hear her tell a story about the flight from the US to Sochi and how she feverishly jotted down some thoughts on her iPad just before the plane landed.
Recalling the moment on Saturday, she said she told herself: ‘‘It’s OK to be confident here. I’m going for gold. Because I think I can. And I don’t think it’s jinxing here and I don’t think it’s arrogant. It’s just a fact. We come to the Olympics to win.’’
After finishing fifth in the giant slalom in her Olympic debut, Shiffrin lived up to her billing as the favorite in the slalom. She jumped out to a comfortable lead after her first run.
She recounted her slalom victory while wearing an American flag scarf, perfectly comfortable in front of the cameras and microphones. Perfectly suited to become the next face of American skiing and perhaps the next Winter Games.